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Steben flies to title

June 09, 2006|By Edgar Melik-Stepanyan

NORWALK — Andrew Steben expected nothing less.

The St. Francis High senior entered Saturday's CIF Southern Section Track and Field Championships at Cerritos College as the favorite to take home the Division III title in the pole vault.

And that's exactly what he did.

Steben won the division title by recording a personal-best leap of 15 feet 6, a foot higher than Atascadero's A.J. Teunissen and Temple City's Hoku Hu, who tied for second.

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"I was pretty sure I could win the title," Steben said. "I had a little bit of an idea that I was going to do well."

Steben, who took third in the division a year ago, cleared 14-6 on his first attempt. Teunissen and Hoku Hu also made the height, as all three athletes attempted to leap 15-0.

Steben cleared 15-0 on his first attempt, as well, and watched Teunissen and Hu on their tries. After both athletes failed on all three of their attempts, the title went to Steben.

Teunissen and Hu stepped aside to watch Steben attempt to break his personal-best mark of 15-1.

Steben, the reigning All-Area Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year, made 15-6 and ended the day with three failed attempts at 16-0.

Steben's final mark of 15-6 was the second-best height in the CIF Southern Section on Saturday and advanced him to the CIF Masters Meet on Friday at Cerritos College.

"I'm following my goal for this season, which is to place at the state finals," said Steben, who advanced to the state preliminaries last year. "These are all just stepping stones."

Crescenta Valley's Nathan Sellers will be the only other athlete to join Steben at the Masters Meet.

Sellers had himself a record-setting day, as he clocked a personal-best mark of 9 minutes 13.86 seconds to finish fifth in the 3,200-meter race in Division I.

Sellers — who'll enter the Masters Meet as the eighth-seeded runner — started strong in the race, covering the first 1,600 in a personal-best time of 4:30.

He stayed with the pack until to end to extend his season for another week.

"As the race progressed, I was just trying to stay focused," Sellers said.

Added Falcon Coach Mark Evans of Sellers, who became the second consecutive Crescenta Valley runner to advance to the Masters Meet after Rusty Whisman advanced in the same event a year ago: "He had to get out with the main guys and run — and he did."

Six other area athletes missed the cut.

Ciara Gonzalez of Flintridge Prep and Bliss Seale of Holy Family led the local girls' contingent. Gonzalez placed fourth in the Division IV 800 (2:23.56) and Seale was fourth in the Division IV shot put (34-8).

Hoover's Annie Sahl was seventh in the Division II girls' long jump (16-10 1/2 ) and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's Heather Riley was also seventh in the Division IV girls' 300 low hurdles (46.65).

Kathryn Poet of Flintridge Sacred Heart placed ninth in the Division IV girls' pole vault and J.P. Thies of St. Francis was eighth in the Division III boys' 1,600 (4:23.82).

HOW THE LOCALS DID

A look at how the area track and field athletes performed at the CIF Southern Section finals:

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